Friday, 3 March 2017

Turn Left to Triumph: The Meta Sudans of Rome

The Meta Sudans is one of the oddest monuments in the city of Rome. I’ll bet most have never heard of it. It’s hard to think what purpose it served. The word /meta/ can mean finishing-point, goalpost, turning point and similar terms. It’s connected with the Greek word ‘meta’ (μετά) where it has the sense of being the end-point of something. But the Greek is a bound morpheme, usually used as prefix, where the Latin is a simple noun. There is some indication that the Etruscans had metae before the Romans, and, as they had an orientalising culture, the connotation of the word may have shifted somewhat, from abstract to concrete.

The Meta Sudans – the sweating cone – stood in Region IV ‘Templum Pacis’, the Temple of Peace. This was a mixture of monumental architecture and down-at -heel housing. It included the ancient Temple of Jupiter Stator and the Subura, one of those areas referred to today as ‘bustling and colourful’ when they mean ‘dangerous’. The district also included the Colossal Statue, but not the  Flavian Amphitheatre (amphitheatrum qui capit loca LXXXVII), which is in Region III ‘Isis et Serapis’, so the boundary of the two regions of the city must have been between the two locations. Quite probably the Meta Sudans was used as a boundary stone.

Topper and Ashby’s Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1929) suggests it was the common marker for Regions I, (Porta Capena) II, (Caelemontium) III, IV and X (Palatium). There are many places in England where several counties conjoin, and there are ten ‘three shire stones’, so it may have served a similar function. Indeed, it may have served a number of functions; we can imagine the senior vicomagister of each city district affected by a Triumph meeting here to plan the events. There may have been other metae in Rome, for it to need an adjective to determine it.

We can see it newly built in a coin of Titus (r. AD79-81), just to the left of the Flavian Amphitheatre (the Colosseum to you and me).  On the coin, it is spurting water rather than sweating or oozing it. By AD354, when the Chronographer itemised the things to be seen in Rome, it certainly had the name (metam sudantem, in the Accusative case).

Sestertius of Titus, showing the Meta Sudans, left
The term ‘meta sudans’ existed before it was built under the Flavians, since as Bill Thayer points out in his as always first rate Lacus Curtius site, it’s referred to in a letter from Seneca to his friend Luculius (aut hunc qui ad Metam Sudantem tubulas experitur et tibias, nec cantat sed exclamat; Seneca Epistulae Morales 4.56) with regard to one at Baiae. This does not mean that the one in Rome was created with that name, as it might have inherited it when it changed to a slighter flow later in antiquity.

There not being such a monument during the life of Seneca (and thus of Nero), yet it was already functioning during the brief reign of Titus, suggests that it was constructed during the decade of Vespasian’s reign. Perhaps it can be related to the Domus Aurea of Nero, which included an artificial lake, created by the engineers Celer and Severus to create a delightful rus in urbe; we could not rule out a purely functional purpose, to regulate hydraulic pressure for Nero’s lake. As that was rapidly dismantled, perhaps the Meta Sudans as we had it until 1936 was prettified and made to be part of a monumental assemblage, because it could not be removed without flooding the area.

The Cloaca Maxima in 1814, oil painting by CW Eckersberg
We can see from nineteenth and early twentieth century photographs than there wasn’t much left. The coin of Titus suggests a high-pressure flow, which did not exist in later centuries, and which was heavily reduced in antiquity. One possibility was that it was used as a safety valve for the water flows from the nearby hills; with heavy rains and rising groundwater flowing off, it could be opened to produce the column of water seen on the coin.


Colourised (perhaps hand-tinted) scene in 1890; maybe a postcard

Victorian photograph of a distant Meta Sudans by the Arch of Titus

Meta Sudans seen through the 250 years later Arch of Constantine


Any large city depends utterly on water flowing, and this was as true for Rome as it was for Los Angeles in the film Chinatown. Rulers, to be seen as benefactors, will want to mark their munificence by a flow of water beyond the level of need. It may have been intended primarily to impress people, in the manner of the Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. This was created by constructing a lake in the Peaks seen behind the house, generating enough water pressure for the fountain to reach nearly 300 feet on demand.

Emperor Fountain (1844) with the South Face of Chatsworth House, the Derbshire home of the Cavendish family, Dukes of Devonshire
The valley in which the Meta Sudans is (or was) located was the original thoroughfare of Rome, the via sacra. The various communities which made up early Rome used that road for processions, notably for funerals; Polybius comments on how important those were. By the time the Meta Sudans was built, processions along the via sacra would have passed underneath the Arch of Titus and then turned left past the Colossus (which the Chronographer notes as ’The colossal statue, 102 feet high. On its head are 7 rays each 22 feet long’.  This was a crowded, low-lying poor area area, which in AD354 had 2,757 insulae and only 88 houses. The water pressure had to process 75 bath houses, 78 cisterns and the Baths of Daphne; the latter may be associated with the statue of Apollo (Apollinem sandaliarum) in that district; Daphne was a water nymph pursued by Apollo, and is one of the first myths Ovid recites in his Metamorphoses.

Computer Reconstruction of the Meta Sudans (see the coin of Titus)
Sadly, the Meta Sudans was demolished at the orders of Mussolini in 1936; by then, as can be seen in these illustrations, it had collapsed into a small stump. There is no sign then of cultural protests like those against ISIS for attacking Palmyra today.





Monday, 27 February 2017

Who Killed Naucratius and Chrysapius?

Two young men were found drowned. Such events took place in antiquity at least as often as such tragedies happen today. But there may be more to it all.

Naucratius was one of the sons of a remarkable family. If he had a Roman style name, we don’t know of it. The family lived on a large landed estate just outside Neocaesarea in Pontus, a province in what’s now northern Turkey. They were well established by the fourth century AD and had slaves.

The story of Naucratius and Chrysapius is told by his elder brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and takes up two chapters in his Life of Macrina, a family hagiography, since Macrina was sister to both men.
Icon of St Macrina; from Kiev, 11th century


Neocaesarea, originally known as Cabira (and in Turkish today as Niksar, derived from its Roman name), stood at the junction of the rivers Iris and Lycus. It was the capital of Pontus and Mithridates the Great lived there, and while came from nearby. Its references to Caesar seems to follow its Greek name Sebaste, city of the prince.

The city had a tiny Christian community in the third century, yet it was given a bishop for its seventeen communicants. This was Gregorius Thaumaturgus, Gregory the Miracle Worker (213-270), who was so famous locally that large numbers of local boys were given that name. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a book about him too. Christian practice in this area seems to be focused on a small band of people, some family members and some closely associated with each others.

Thaumaturgus was bishop of the area in the middle of the third century, when the Goths invaded from across the Black Sea; local people who had converted to Christianity were abducted by the Goths (possibly with the cooperation of local ‘pagans’ glad to see the back of them); a century later, one of them was Wulfilla, apostle to the Goths, the man who invented the Gothic alphabet and translated most of the Bible into Gothic; the slaves had over the years become Goths and yet retained Christianity and a working knowledge of Latin and Greek for a century.

It is possible that Thaumaturgus was related to the family of Naucratius. The place was not particularly large and nobles and major landowners tended to marry each other. The wonder worker only became a bishop at age forty, having been a lawyer before that. His miracles therefore took place between c.253 and his death in 270, only seventeen years, so they must have made a big impression.

Another connection with Naucratius may have related to the latter’s name. Thaumaturgus had travelled to the near east in his youth on the staff of a Roman governor. The young man’s name relates to the major port city of Naucratis in Egypt. There does remain however a possibility that the name was given to him post mortem, as it means ‘sea victory’, perhaps symbolising how he somehow conquered death by martyrdom.

That the family lived on their landed estate rather than in the city may have to do with the destruction of Neocaesarea in an earthquake in AD344, which is recorded in Jerome’s Chronicle. This was part of a massive series of earthquakes in the eastern Mediterranean in the 340s, destroying several eastern cities in 341, Durres in Albania in 346 (whose aftershocks, Jerome says, were felt in Rome), as well as Nicomedia and others in 358 and Nicea itself in 368. The disruption to civic life this created may be what led to serious famines in places like Phrygia in 370.

The family of St Basil. Naucratius third from left, front row. All the other brothers were bishops (and have crucifixes on their robes)
So when we hear of large numbers of people moving to the family estate, these may have been people in Neocaesarea and elsewhere putting themselves under the protection of a powerful patronage dynasty. Gregory again, concerning his youngest brother, Peter: ‘Once when a severe famine had occurred and crowds from all quarters were frequenting the retreat where they lived, drawn by the fame of their benevolence, Peter's kindness supplied such an abundance of food that the desert seemed a city by reason of the number of visitors.’ (Life of Macrina, translated 1916).

The story of the death of Naucratius is sufficiently short to quote verbatim.

The Tragic Death of Naucratius
Then there fell on the mother a grievous and tragic affliction, contrived, I think, by the Adversary, which brought trouble and mourning upon all the family. For he was snatched suddenly away from life. No previous sickness had prepared them for the blow, nor did any of the usual and well-known mischances bring death upon the young man. Having started out on one of the expeditions, by which he provided necessaries for the old men under his care, he was brought back home dead, together with Chrysapius who shared his life. His mother was far away, three days distant from the scene of the tragedy. Some one came to her telling the bad news. Perfect though she was in every department of virtue, yet nature dominated her as it does others. For she collapsed, and in a moment lost both breath and speech, since her reason failed her under the disaster, and she was thrown to the ground by the assault of the evil tidings, like some noble athlete hit by an unexpected blow.

Naucratius had been living with another young man ‘Chrysapius who shared his life’. When they both died from drowning, Naucratius’ mother Emmelia ‘collapsed, and in a moment lost both breath and speech, since her reason failed her under the disaster, and she was thrown to the ground by the assault of the evil tidings, like some noble athlete hit by an unexpected blow’. This sounds very much like an ancient attempt to describe a stroke. She died some time later, on 30 May 375.

If we go back to the previous chapter, we get some context:

The Story of Naucratius
The second of the four brothers, Naucratius by name, who came next after the great Basil, excelled the rest in natural endowments and physical beauty, in strength, speed and ability to turn his hand to anything. When he had reached his twenty-first year, and had given such demonstration of his studies by speaking in public, that the whole audience in the theatre was thrilled, he was led by a divine providence to despise all that was already in his grasp, and drawn by an irresistible impulse went off to a life of solitude and poverty. He took nothing with him but himself, save that one of the servants named Chrysapius followed him, because of the affection he had towards his master and the intention he had formed to lead the same life. So he lived by himself, having found a solitary spot on the banks of the Iris, a river flowing through the midst of Pontus. It rises actually in Armenia, passes through our parts, and discharges its stream into the Black Sea. By it the young man found a place with a luxuriant growth of trees and a hill nestling under the mass of the overhanging mountain. There he lived far removed from the noises of the city and the distractions that surround the lives both of the soldier and the pleader in the law courts. Having thus freed himself from the din of cares that impedes man's higher life, with his own hands he looked after some old people who were living in poverty and feebleness, considering it appropriate to his mode of life to make such a work his care. So the generous youth would go on fishing expeditions, and since he was expert in every form of sport, he provided food to his grateful clients by this means. And at the same time by such exercises he was taming his own manhood. Besides this, he also gladly obeyed his mother's wishes whenever she issued a command. And so in these two ways he guided his life, subduing his youthful nature by toils and caring assiduously for his mother, and thus keeping the divine commands he was travelling home to God.

In this manner he completed the fifth year of his life as a philosopher, by which he made his mother happy, both by the way in which he adorned his own life by continence, and by the devotion of all his powers to do the will of her that bore him.

His mother, Emmelia, would not be the first not to understand that her son was gay. After all, the construction of someone who is exclusively heterosexual or homosexual is a modern one, and to the Romans in the pre-Christian era, the only obligation was to parent sufficient children to pass on the family name and wealth; what either sex did beyond that achievement was considered their own business.

Chrysapius is described in the 1916 translation as a servant, but people didn’t have servants then, and the life of a waged servant, who could be dismissed, was hardly desirable either. Put simply, Chrysapius was a slave. He went with Naucratius no doubt with the permission of an overseer, who would have consulted the head of the family resident on the landed estate, which was Macrina, the eldest of the siblings; her father had died shortly after the birth of Peter, we are told, and legally the mother was not a member of the family, so it would have been Macrina who decided.

There are hints at their relationship. Chrysapius went with Naucratius because of ‘the affection he had towards his master and the intention he had formed to lead the same life’. This seems to me to be an indicator of a loving homosexual relationship, in what seems a rural idyll almost like Thoreau’s Walden. We are told the two men lived three days travel from the family estate, which would have been too far for the family to drop in, as every young person living away from the family for the first time would crave. It’s hard now to understand what the role of a free born citizen might be with regards to a slave, hetero of homosexually. Since a slave was not legally a person, would a citizen at that time be capable of being termed ‘chaste’

His name may actually have been Chrysaphius not Chrysapius. There was a famous eunuch minister at the court of Theodosius II in Constantinople called Chrysaphius.

It may seem odd that Naucratius was not ordained, since three brothers were, and the eldest sister, Macrina, was a nun (we are told that Emmelia gave her daughter a secret name, Thecla, at birth; Thecla was a female apostle associated with St Paul).

As he was not a priest, the only way he could have been a saint in those days was as a martyr. Who might have killed him? Well, in that same year, AD374 there were condemnations from Gregory of Nyssa (the brother of Naucratius) and by his kinsman, Gregory of Naziansus, against a cult known as the Hypsistarians, worshippers of Hypsistos, the ‘most high god’. He seems to be derived from the Cappadocian god Sabazios, who may be connected to Sabaoath, one of the sacred names of the Hebrew god. So the Cappadocian Christian leaders of a rich powerful clan in the area were drawn into a dispute with followers of a religion which fused local beliefs with elements of Judaism, expressed through Greek terminology.

Altar to Hypsistos, first century AD
I can quite see that a religion condemned by local Christian zealots might strike out at the most vulnerable member of that group. Since Naucratius’ father had been born a ‘pagan’, might he too have been a follower of Hypsistos? If so, it could be revenge on Christian antagonism. What we can’t know is cause versus effect. Did the works condemning Hypsistos provoke the murder of Naucratius and Chrysapius (Chrysaphius), or were they to condemn the Hypsistarians, following the murder of the beloved son and his lover?

Temple Statue of Zeus Hypsistos, decapitated, perhaps by Christians
We may never know, but the deaths caused Emmelia to have a stroke, and Macrina died not long after, weakening her body with starvation. Was that her penance? The surviving members of the family followed St Jerome to Bethlehem soon after.


For sure, Naucratius and his lover were murdered: martyrdom implies murder. Whether he was murdered as a member of a family cult, vulnerable because of his chosen exile, or for his sexuality by rival Christians or by Hypsistarians, will never be proven.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Philip the Arab, Rome's Millennium and the Rise of Christianity

We are so used to east and west being opposed to each other that we forget that Rome had an Arab emperor. More than that, he was the empire’s first Christian ruler and celebrated the city’s millennium. And all in five years.

Marcus Julius Philippus, dubbed Philippus Arabus, Philip the Arab, was born in Shahba, south of Damascus, in the Province of Arabia in c.204 AD and was the son of a local citizen Julius Marinus. The cognomen Julius suggests one of his ancestors was given citizenship under one of the Julian dynasty. During his reign Philip had the Senate deify Marinus, a rare occasion where someone other than an emperor or empress received the Romano-Greek ceremony of Apotheosis. Possibly Philip was cocking a snook at the whole process, if he were himself a Christian.

Philip was helped in his reign by his elder brother, Gaius Julius Priscus, who received the title Rector Orientis, a quasi-emperor. Later he probably would have been made eastern emperor, but the bad example of Caracalla and Geta fresh in senatorial minds probably precluded that. Priscus had however held several imperial posts before this.

What we are seeing is an attempt to consolidate Arab power within the empire. Caracalla was half-Syrian through his mother, Julia Domna. This brings up the question as to whether the two families were linked. Julia Domna was descended from the priest-kings of El-Gebal at Emesa (modern Homs); these were a Bedouin dynasty who had ruled in that area for several hundred years. El-Gebal (God of the Mountain) was worshipped by a black holy stone, foreshadowing Islam, and possibly linked to the lapis niger in the Roman Forum. The priest-kings of  Emesa took the Roman names Gaius Julius in AD14, perhaps to mark Augustus who died that year, added to which was their personal name; one has ‘Asiscus’, that is, Aziz.

Roman coins exist showing the black stone topped by an eagle, showing an effort to align the symbolism of Rome and Emesa. Clearly the best known emperor was Elagabalus, who has been a favourite since a comic description of him by Gibbon.

Antoninus coin of Uranius Alexander, showing Black Stone of El-Gabal on the reverse.


Philip’s brother, Gaius Julius Priscus, carries the same name as the priest-kings of Emesa; ‘priscus’ means ‘pure’, just the sort of cognomen a religious man might adopt. Modern Homs is quite close to the sea, but a man might receive a cognomen of ‘Marinus’ if he came back to it from military service in the Roman navy or from simply living for a while by the sea. In a previous posting, I discussed a ‘St Marina’ and a ‘St Pelagia’ of Syria who seem to be the same person.

So I speculate that the family of Philip the Arab were (or claimed to be) related to the former imperial family. Shahba is in modern Jordan and was only a modest village; the emperor turned it into Philippopolis and endowed it with the sort of buildings a major city would expect to have. This was a vast expense and may ultimately have hastened his overthrow.

Certain family names crop up in the royal family of Emesa which had an impact on the wider empire: Iotapus/ Iotapa; Bassianus/ Bassiana; Iamblicus; Balbillus/ Balbilla.

Caracalla was born Lucius Septimius Bassianus, and the real name of Elagabalus was Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus, while his cousin Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus Alexianus ruled as Alexander Severus. It does show that the Bassianus clan of Syria was as important as or even more important than the Severus name.

Iotapus/ Iotapa is a name from Commagene, the area discussed in my previous posting. Balbillus/ Balbilla is a Syrian name, and the family of Julia Balbilla, the sister of Philopappos, mentioned repeatedly in her poems.

Iamblichus was an Emesene writer, author of the Babyloniaka, written in Greek, a romantic novel, but deriving from Babylonian stories. It was written towards the end of the second century AD. He was a relative of the empress Julia Domna, and may have been part of the salon of writers she developed. He was also a cousin of Gaius Julius Sohaemus, who had been a Roman senator and allegedly consul (though I can’t find this name on the consular lists) before becoming King of Armenia 144-61 and 163-86. It does show how flexible identity had become, and how layered.

There were probably other Babylonian stories floating around the Graeco-Roman world in the early empire. Ovid has the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in the Metamorphoses. It’s the only one of his stories to have no known precursor, so it’s likely to come from a Syrian original (there is a river Pyramos in ancient Syria). Other well-known myths such as Venus and Adonis and Diana and Actaeon derive from Syrian sources (discussed in Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer by Robin Lane Fox, Penguin 2008).

The double, parallel nature of local identity within the eastern part of the empire is shown by the usurper who sought to overthrow Severus Alexander. His real name was Sampsiceramus and he was a priest of El Gebal at Emesa, and was related to its royal family. He took the name Lucius Julius Aurelius Sulpicius Severus Uranius Antoninus, but is generally known as Uranius Alexander. There is a tendency throughout history that the longer and more grandiose the name, the weaker the link to power.

His coins show only Greek lettering and portray the temple of El-Gebal with its pre-Islamic black stone, but are dated according to the system of the Seleucid kingdom, a Hellenistic creation, not to the local, Greek or Roman systems. This is an interplay of various norms, as if he was feeling his way how best to balance various benefits and liabilities. Although of course, Rome has its own lapis niger, which was in turn given aetiological interpretation.

Finally, Zenobia, the famous queen of Palmyra who weakened Roman rule in the middle east, claimed descent from Julia Domna, although she also claimed descent from Cleopatra and even Dido Queen of Carthage, who is a myth.

Painting of Julia Domna, with her distinctive Syrian hairstyle.

A lot clearly turns on Julia Domna, who was born in AD170 in Emesa and married the future emperor Septimius Severus when she was just seventeen, five years before he became emperor; according to the Historia Augusta, she married the widower general on the basis of a favourable horoscope. Her entourage included Philostratus, author of the Life of the Sophists and the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a first century wonder worker performing miracle in Palestine at the same time as Christ. She committed suicide at 47 after the murder of Caracalla by Macrinus; apparently she went on hunger strike.

Returning to Philip, he does show the continuing level of involvement of Arabs in the empire beyond the Severans. Besides deifying his father and making his brother almost joint emperor, and spending taxpayers’ money embellishing his home village, he made his infant son co-Augustus, with the intention of him succeeding. The failure of dynasty in the third century crisis seems to have been a clash between the public taste for stability versus the ambitions unleashed when dynasties imploded.

Philip increased his popularity by celebrating the millennium of the foundation of Rome; by tradition, it had been founded in 753BC, so AD247 marked its millennium. Philip used the Secular Games and repackaged the resources intended to be the triumph of Gordian III against the Persians (Gordian had died). To some extent the Millennium Games in Rome were intended to distract the Roman masses from the Persian failure.

Whether or not Rome had actually reached its millennium, the Romans thought it had. Claudius had held Secular Games in AD47, to mark Rome’s 800th anniversary, in 148 under Antoninus Pius and so Philip was just doing what emperors did. Modern commentators have argued that since the Secular Millennial Games would have involved pagan sacrifices and as a Christian Philip would have been forbidden to do so. The only recent sacrifice was a batch of ritual cakes, and the games lasted just three days. As the Church was then undercover and papal supremacy had not yet been established, Philip’s approach might have been heterodox, but there was no mechanism to consider him a heretic.

Coin with a bearded Philip the Arab, showing the secular games column on the reverse
The imperial biographer and chronicler Eusebius, writing during the reign of Constantine, claims that Philip was a Christian, and that he tried to celebrate Easter at Antioch, but was turned away as a sinner by St Babylas, a powerful Antiochene bishop whose memorial church was a hundred and ten years later seen as a block to the temple of Apollo at Daphne, which was destroyed by Christian fanatics under Julian. The same story about Babylas making Philip wait with the common people features in a homily by John Chrysostom. Modern scholars have claimed this as untrue, but given that Eusebius was born in nearby Caesarea in AD260 to an eastern Christian family, this snub of an emperor would have been spoken of in his youth, since it had happened only twelve years before.

An unbearded Philip the Arab, in a classical bust at St Petersburg



The doubt about whether Philip was a Christian may be shown by his imagery: his coins show him bearded, as all adult emperors had been since Hadrian, but the statue shown above, which is in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, shows him clean shaven. Other than him, and child-emperors, emperors were always portrayed bearded until Constantine, after which they were universally clean-shaven, except for the pagan Julian, who wrote his famous rant Misopogon (the Beard Hater) while in  at Antioch in Syria.

Persecution of Babylas, medieval painting
The man who made Philip wait, archbishop Babylas of Antioch, was martyred in 253 at the instigation of the emperor Valerian as a result of a crackdown on Christians following Philip’s assassination in AD249. Babylas was thrown into prison in Antioch in 250 and died three years later. Philip was overthrown by the Urban Prefect Gaius Messius Quintus Decius, who managed to vanish in the Danube swamps while losing Dacia to the Goths in 251. Decius and his successor Valerian appear in Lactantius’ book On the Deaths of the Persecutors, written in the reign of Constantine. While he ignored Trebonianus Gallus (emperor 251-3), Lactantius made Decius and Valerian the first persecuting emperors since Domitian 150 years previously, and rejoiced in their juicy deaths.

The emperor Trajan Decius (r.249-251)


The persecutions of Decius only lasted a year and were mainly in Carthage, where surviving transcripts of investigations by magistrates show a reluctance to grant Christians the martyrdom they sought. All anyone had to do was obtain a certificate (libellus) that they had sacrificed to the traditional gods, and knowing how prone the empire was to fraud, this could have been faked up easily enough. All religions, except Jews were targeted, and while many were killed, the Plague of Cyprian, which raged at the same time, killed a hundred times as many every day. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage was beheaded, and much of the death tolls seems to have been in Egypt and Africa.

The Decian persecution of Christians lasted only eight years and had been preceded by 150 years of tolerance. Valerian’s son and successor Gallienus (r.253-68) oversaw the forty year ‘Little Peace of the Church’ in which Christianity thrived following imperial edicts which recognised the religion, its places of worship and property. While this was ended in the west by Maximian, Christianity was in a much stronger position thanks initially to Philip the Arab.

The focus of persecuting regimes on harming people in Africa, Syria, Egypt and away from Europe does seem to show a desire to rid the Roman Empire of a powerful oriental element. Never after this would a non-European hold power in the empire.